Started a semi-vacation weekend by driving to Jacksonville from Orlando, arriving in time to check-in at the hotel and relax for about 10 minutes before going to the speaker party. New venue this time, Sneakers Grille, and it was much better location for networking, plenty of space to spread out and just talk. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with John Welch, Eris Wisdahl, Tim Radney, Doug Brendle, and Kevin Boles, talking about PASS, mentoring, and adventures in working with clients. Wrapped up early for a change, around 9:30, and back to the hotel to spend some time with family.
Everything was going smoothly when I arrived at the college Saturday morning around 8:00 am. The building has some construction under way, scaffolds everywhere, and that definitely made it hard to find/get to, I think a few more signs would have been helpful. Check-in was quick, plenty of volunteers taking care of things, and then some decent coffee and off to start talking to people.
I always think how nice it would be to make a list of who I see and talk to, but it would be a big list, and I’m trying to focus on listening – just hard to stop to type a note! Lots of familiar faces. Nice for a slow cup of coffee and chat, and then time to do my presentation on Professional Development Plans. Much the same as I’ve done a few times already, but I tried a few new approaches and they worked ok, not sure better as much as different. Funny how presentations tend to remain a work in progress. Lots of positive comments, looking forward to doing more with this, probably moving to a Part 1/2 model over 2 hours.
The rest of the morning flew by, more networking, checking out the sponsor area briefly, more networking. It’s funny in a way to call it networking, but it’s always a good mix of meeting a few new people and refreshing relationships with people already met, and a few of those always seem to evolve into longer and deeper conversations that I find invaluable, in some many ways.
Lunch was pizza and it was hectic. The food was in the sponsor area (I would guess to drive traffic to sponsors, which I appreciate) but it just a bit too much action in too small a space, took a while to get things flowing. For all that I doubt anyone waited more than 10 minutes. Lunch was picnic style on the grass with Kendal Van Dyke, Dan Taylor, Bradley Ball, John Welch (and more name that I’ve managed to lose), and more good conversation, a lot about the limits and possibilities of SQL Azure.
After lunch, well, more talking, including a lengthy chat with Karen Lopez. As I write this it’s 4 pm and I’m finally in a session about Data Mining. Not a major areas of focus, but that makes it a good session to catch, I can listen lightly and learn, and maybe it will spur me to do more with data than I do now.
Attendance was in the 250-300 range, and as always my friend Scott Gleason was taking care of details, constantly bagging up trash and doing all the stuff that makes things run. Scott said that this time he and Brian Knight were able to do less in the planning phase because of having so many good volunteers. It’s a model I wish was easier to emulate, takes time, skill, and some luck to build that kind of team.
After this presentation I’ll stay for part of the end of day raffle, and then go to the after party for a while, and for once leave early to take my family to a nice dinner, and try to make the rest of the weekend seem like the mini-vacation it’s supposed to be!